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Nigeria’s petroleum bill to be passed by mid-2020, says oil minister

The bill leaves oil companies and investors lukewarm about putting their money into Nigeria.

Nigeria’s oil ministry will send a new Petroleum Industry Bill to parliament next week, aiming to pass it into law by mid-2020, Minister of Petroleum Timipre Sylva said on Monday, hoping to end years of delay that have hampered investment.

For nearly two decades, the bill has seen various incarnations under successive administrations, but none has managed to sign it into law. The resulting uncertainty has left oil companies and investors lukewarm about putting their money into Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude producer.

The lack of a bill “really brings a lot of uncertainty to the investment climate”, and passing it is essential to attract much-needed funding to Nigeria’s oil sector, Sylva said.

When it is sent to parliament the draft legislation will become a public document, he said.

The most recent version of the bill was during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term, but disagreements between lawmakers and the executive saw the leader reject parliament’s efforts.

Now, the relationship between the legislature and the presidency is on better footing and could pave the way for smoother drafting and adoption of the bill.

“We are on the same page as the National Assembly,” Sylva said, referring to Nigeria’s parliament, adding that he hoped international oil majors were also on board.

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